The 1980s and 1990s saw a steep decline in the fortunes of farmers, brought on by low commodity prices. This also resulted in a sharp rise in the number of suicides amongst farmers.
As a result of this, FCN was founded in 1995 by Christopher Jones MBE, who is now our Honorary President. It was set up as a joint venture between the Agricultural Christian Fellowship (ACF) and Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre. It was founded under the name The Farm Crisis Network.
In 2001, farms in England and Wales were hit with 2,000 cases of foot and mouth disease. Over 10 million animals were slaughtered and thousands of businesses and jobs lost as a result. This led to a soaring number of suicides within the farming industry.
FCN became a key player in supporting farmers during the outbreak, with some volunteers working 18 hour days. More people became aware of the work of FCN, leading to an increase in recruitment within the charity. FCN was attracting more funding, allowing the national helpline to be developed.
From 2002-2008 the charity began to grow. The head office was centralised on Christopher Jones’ farm in West Haddon, appointing deputy director Helen Bagwell. The charity’s volunteers and referrals were increasing, driving the charity to become more efficient and process driven.
2008-2011 saw volunteers exceeding 300 alongside the newly appointed Executive Director Sarah Brown.
In 2011 Charles Smith was appointed FCN Chief Executive Officer. Relationships began to grow with several governmental and agricultural bodies becoming involved.
In 2013 the Farming Crisis Network changed its name to The Farming Community Network. There became a great focus on fundraising and communications, developing FCN to a well-respected charity within farming and the voluntary sector.